essays by Shé

Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Bowing Man

In Love on May 24, 2022 at 11:57 am

Even in paradise there is road work. Lately, during weekdays, only one lane of the highway is open between Kilauea and Stepford. I rarely get stuck early in the morning, but sometimes catch it later, after snorkeling. Traffic stops completely. Then I shut off the 4Runner’s engine and write. Many others leave their engines on, a pet peeve of mine.

One day, after our long line had started rolling again, down the hill toward Kalihiwai River, which leads to Maureen’s, a winter surf break, I notice the flagger. His sign is now turned to SLOW, and folks eagerly pass him. But unlike any other flagger I’ve ever seen, he is bowing.

Yes, bowing, to each and every vehicle as it passes. He sports a Mona Lisa smile, and, what’s this? his right hand makes a shaka sign: thumb and pinky extended, middle three fingers folded in. When he bows, he brings the thumb of the shaka to his forehead, so the pinky points at us. Each and every time. Each and every car. Including mine.

My slight do-I-really-have-to-be-in-traffic funk evaporates. He changed the tone of my day.

He is not always there. He is not always bowing. I threw a shaka at him the other day and got a subtle one back, sans bow, but with the ML smile. One day I waved wildly and he bowed and shaka’d me, but no one else. I am special!

Buddha is a flagger. Jesus puts the cones down. Kwan Yin is in the cherry picker. Mohammed trims the trees. La Virgen feeds the chipper. Pele is the foreman.

Slow down, they say. Look at the orange-red African tulips so high in the branches! And why rush over the river? Imagine paddling toward the mountains! Imagine floating down to Sea!

Revel. That’s your word of the day. I painted it on cardboard and hung it on my fence. Sometimes the wind blows it over. So I flip it rightside, and remember: God is everywhere, God is everything, God is everyone. Namaste.

Revel, ink and acrylic on canvas, 2021

Essay #49: surfista

In Love on April 28, 2022 at 2:24 pm

Fat, old, ugly — that’s what the mirror said this morning, that bullshit trifecta familiar to many women. Women? Maybe it’s a human condition, not strictly personal, which doesn’t make me feel any better as I try to insert contact lenses so I can go surfing. Fuck. Who am I kidding? Surfing is a young man’s sport.

EXCUSE ME?! Rell Sunn, Lisa Anderson, Rochelle Ballard, Frieda Zamba, Bethany Hamilton, Keala Kennelly, Layne Beachley, Sarah Gerhardt, et al. Gidget, for crying out loud. Not to mention Anke, Rose, Keiko, Jamie, Heidi, Eve, Erin, Tami, Sophie, and countless other women whose names I don’t know because we’re too busy trying to catch waves.

I feel better once I’m astride the royal blue bike, board in rack, pedaling toward a nearby break. Yeah! I’m going surfing! Who cares if I’m old, fat, and/or ugly — it’s irrelevant. Besides, to whom is that mirror comparing me, Joan Allen or Alicia Witt from a recent (to me) movie? Would I trade places with them? No. I am pedaling to the ocean that surrounds Kaua’i. I do this often. I have spent HUGE amounts of time NOT doing this. And it made me very unhappy.

At Kane’s I grab a ride out the back on a rip current, a recently acquired skill. Then I watch the water a good long time, noting how and where and when the waves break. I have a highly sensitive nervous system, which means the bod takes in a lot of information that needs processing. So I go slow, acclimatize to the environment. I have been to this particular break before, so am a bit more relaxed. I’m able to catch a wave fairly quickly, and I’m up! balanced! and peeling down the line, riding energy along the face of the wave, almost to shore. Wow!

That may not sound like much to you, but I came to surfing late. 54, to be exact, almost five years ago. Every wave is different, every break is different, every board is different, every day is different. It’s not like riding a bike on a firm road, where, once you get the gist, you’re outta there — world here I come! No. Surfing takes patience, perseverance, strength, flexibility, endurance, and access, not all of which are available to me at any given time.

When I return home, thrilled with the session, I cover the mirror with a stylized print of sea turtles. No turtle has ever told me to lose twenty pounds, put on make-up, or lie about my age. The only communications I’ve gathered from them is, “Woo-hoo! The ocean!” (Florida hatchlings); “Who are you?” (Hawaiian juveniles); and “Gimme more lettuce.” (Mississippi gopher tortoise).

May you be well.

surfista shé, photo by Jimi Valentine
Surfista Shé, photo by Jimi Valentine

Essay #40: duty or delight?

In Love on December 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm

“If you feel a sense of delight, you know you’re on the right track. Delight is a marker for the soul’s truth — it’s never wrong.” ~Kathy Freston, Expect a Miracle

Amen, cousin.

Who would you rather be around: someone who’s delighted to be here or someone who thinks she should be? Don’t do us any favors by saying yes when you want to say no. We can tell it’s a should — a duty, not a delight.

How much energy are you expending on duty, on shoulds? Do you talk yourself into hateful jobs? ill-fitting friends? Do you pray for traffic or nasty weather so you have a good reason to skip the company Xmas party? Or do you immediately reschedule everything so you can attend?

I’m not saying duty can’t be delightful. Take exercise. It starts out being a duty, something I should do, but by the end of the walk or ride, I’m delighted. Life is good.

Figuring out whether something is a duty or delight can be tricky. Usually the body knows better than the brain. I recently, surreptitiously, returned the music to a dance piece I hadn’t bowed out of. My body wouldn’t let the CD all the way into the house, kept it near the door so I could slip it in my pocket next time I visited the choreographer. Afterward, my brain finally let me e-mail my resignation. If I attend rehearsals for a piece I think I should do, I’m doing my Self a disservice, as well as the dance.

Moving toward delight can be scary if you’re out of the habit. I have actually run from delight, talked myself out of it in all its manifestations. Years ago, I was hugely attracted to a man at work. Instead of talking to him, I avoided him like the plague. Could barely look at him. Whipped a quick 180 from the very possibility of delight. I’ve regretted it ever since.

Which are you choosing — duty or delight?

Essay #3: spring cleaning

In Love on March 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Dandelions are about to bloom. Time to dig ’em up and boil them for a nourishing tonic.

Out in the rain last week, I dug in the dirt, getting wet and feeling fine. Or was I melancholy? Moods pass through me like weather: Hello Anger! Oh, Regret, back so soon? Aloha, Sadness.

I don’t mean to sound flippant. Sometimes these visitors are quite painful. Anger scares the hell out of me.

Last night, I read The Railway Children, by E. Nesbit. One of the girls commented on how beautiful their mother is when she’s angry. That reminded me of how men used to say, “God! You’re beautiful when you’re mad!” and how demeaning it seemed. Ah, isn’t she cute when she’s upset.

But last night I looked at it differently. When energy flows through us unhindered, we are beautiful, whether it’s instigated by joy or love or anger.

I’m not talking about violence, though I used to think they were the same. Violence is what happens when Anger is ignored. Shove Anger away for long enough and she becomes Depression, dangerous and life-threatening.

For years I forced myself to put away my performing jones and join the ‘real’ world. And what happened? I was (unknowingly) furious at myself. And that rippled outward.
Self-loathing interferes with world peace.

Audre Lorde said, “Anger is loaded with information and energy.”

I’ve strangled anger for so long she’s found all kinds of ways to sneak out and wreak havoc: turning to Jealousy and Frustration for help, attacking my body with pains in the neck, inflaming the bottom of my foot. I was hobbled by hatred.

Anger doesn’t wait for permission. She surges up and forces me to notice that something is wrong now. Good girl Politeness finally takes a back seat, though she struggles for control. “Mustn’t be angry. You don’t want to scare anyone.”

Recently, I gave myself permission to be pissed.
Coincidentally (if there is such a thing), I auditioned for Elektra. You know, the Greek play about the woman who wants to kill her mother to avenge her father? She slipped right in, under my skin. Her hatred blew through me like a scirocco. What a relief to let her have her say.

When I talk myself out of anger, she digs in her heels and fights harder. When I allow her to speak, she stomps around a bit, then leaves of her own accord.

I have spent most of my life listening to others: parents, teachers, friends, lovers, bosses, critics.

I am learning to listen to Love, which means also listening to Anger. Listening to me.

It’s spring, sweetheart.
The old life is over.
Begin again.

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